In a conversation today about the upcoming Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we were reminiscing about our childhood experiences, the foods (being a gastronomical as well as spiritual Jew) and the rituals. She mentioned a dish called kasha and bowties that my Russian-born Bubbe (grandmother) used to make. For those who have never tasted this delicacy, it combines buckwheat groats and bowtie noodles. Weird kid that I was, I would douse mine with ketchup. If you want to be authentic, you would mix in chicken fat (a.k.a. ‘schmaltz’), but for those who have vegan sensibilities, this alternative recipe of Kasha Varnishkes (another name for the comfort food), calls for vegetable stock instead.

I plan on making it tomorrow night for the dinner that ushers in Rosh Hashanah, which is also called The Jewish New Year. As September rolls around, I begin thinking about the family legacy of Judaism and the ethical practices it implies. It is a contemplative time; an opportunity to go inward and take inventory, as one would in addiction recovery (a staple of the 12 steps). I like to think I do this every day, but at this time of year, it feels even more important. When I glance back over my shoulder at the previous 12 months,  I recognize the leaps and bounds growth I have experienced, the extraordinary people I have encountered and the challenges I have overcome. I take note of the ways I was true to myself and my values, as well as times when I was inauthentic. I let myself both feel and hide my emotions in the service of avoiding pain. When I did that, physical symptoms reminded me to take heed and make necessary shifts in perception and change in behavior. I came clean with folks where there was a misunderstanding. I asked for forgiveness and made amends and was offered the same. I deepened my spiritual practice. I got all kinds of stretchy in my personal and professional life. I let myself love and be loved in ways I feared doing in the past.

I am gazing out the window of my second-floor office (feels like being in a tree-house) at the turning gold and brown leaves on the branches and considering the change of seasons. The dancing leaves seem to feel no trepidation about spiraling downward and potentially swept upward by unpredictable wind currents. Would that we humans be that free and trusting.

I also consider this time of year a grand chance to push a reset button. I know I can’t take back anything I have said or done that I regret. It is like attempting to stuff a bunch of wayward feathers into a pillow from which they had escaped. I do have a choice about the trajectory I want my life to take, and so do you.  Even if you don’t celebrate this holiday, you too can choose to re-evaluate your life and the path you decide to meander down.

L’shana Tovah…wishing you a sweet New Year.


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